All of us has spent ages cleaning our car to a mirror finish only to have our handiwork ruined by the nasty splatter of bird droppings. Being unpleasant and annoying at the same time, birds’ mess can actually damage paintwork, with potential repair bills in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the worst-case scenario.
Time is of the essence, because the longer droppings sit on the paintwork, the more chance they have of causing costly problems.
But why does bird droppings damage paintwork? And how remove it safely?
When bird droppings are removed from paintwork, they can leave a visible ripple in the paint’s surface or a cloudy mark in the worst-case scenario. It’s also possible to make things worse by scratching the paintwork in the removal process, by being too aggressive or using the wrong tool.
For many years, the acidity of bird poops has been blamed for the ‘etching’ effect they can have on paintwork. However, recent research carried out by car detailing specialist Autoglym, has come up with another reason.
In its testing, it was discovered that as the top layer of paint lacquer warms during the day, it softens and expands, while bird poops dry and become hard. Later, when the lacquer cools and contracts, it can mould to the texture leaving a rowdy impression on the surface. A tiny imperfection is needed to create a visible gray patch that stands next to the shiny paint.
How to remove bird mess properly
Speed of removal is the most important factor in preventing damage and this is especially important on sunny or hot days when the lacquer is at its softest. For vehicles left outdoors, a car cover is the most sensible solution. It can also be worth trying to avoid parking under street lights, trees and the eaves of buildings.
The key is to use water to ensure the droppings are soft. This is most easily achieved by placing a wet cloth or car cleaning wipe over the offending area and leaving it in place for 2 minutes. Once you’ve done this, it should come away from the surface easily.
Always avoid using a rubbing or scraping motion and pressing hard to dislodge the droppings; if not all of it is removed first time, simply repeat the whole process
It’s advisable to wear disposable gloves and, of course, to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
What if my car is already damaged?
If the paintwork already has spots from bird mess, you can fix them with little time and attention. More extreme cases may require the help of a paint restoration expert.
If you want to try to correct the paint at home, the first step is to wash the car and apply a lightly abrasive car polish to the affected area, following the manufacturer’s instructions only after the car is dry. This should gently remove the damaged top layer of paintwork. After it’s polished, make sure to cover the panel with a wax to protect it from the elements.